>Turkey to join CTF-151?

>Information Dissemination, one of the most influential naval blogs, published an interesting interview with the Vice Admiral William Gortney, who is the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

Admiral Gortney is commanding US naval forces and personal in US CENTCOM region. The formal Area of Responsibility (AOR) of CENTCOM extends to 20 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

International waters included are the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and western portions of the Indian Ocean.

There are two important naval operations continuing in the above mentioned international waters. First one is he multinational Combined Task Force One Five Zero. CTF-150 was established to monitor, inspect, board, and stop suspect shipping to pursue the war on terrorism and includes operations currently taking place in the North Arabia Sea to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The second one is the newly established Combined Task Force One Five One. The mission of CTF 151 is to prevent and deter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden .Currently only USA and UK are contributing to CTF-151. But according to Vice Admiral Gortney this is going to change (emphasis is mine):

Q) What’s Taskforce 151 going to look like in a year? As I understand it now,
it’s a coalition, but of three United States ships only. So who do you expect to
join, when, and what’s it going to — what’s it going to look like full force?

A) ADM. GORTNEY: Yeah. The only reason 151 is U.S. only — and now U.K. will be
signing up for it — is because the nations have to get a mandate. Their forces
have to get a mandate to serve with the CTF. So it takes a while for that
process to work. And we see great — a great deal of interest in people joining,
the nations joining 151, because they now have a mandate to do the
counterpiracy. It’s CTF that gives them the authorities to do that.So we see,
either working within 151 or an associated, we see Saudi, UAE, the U.K.,
Pakistan, Australia has made interest into it, Turkey has made very positive
signs into it
. So there’s a number of countries, a significant number of
countries, to be frank, that we — I think six months, a year from now, once
they’re processed and they get the authorities, will be a part of CTF-151, as
well as CTF-150

The full transcript of this interview is here.

After the mandate for NATO’s SMNG-2 ended in December, Turkey expressed its interest in joining the EU Operation Atalanta as reported previously.

Turkey is not a member of EU, and Turkish General Staff wants to participate at the Operation Atalanta if Turkey is allowed to take active role in its command and control mechanism. But to be honest this is a long shot and it is not likely to happen. And NATO is not likely to get a new mandate to send her ships down there before EU’s force returns.

Therefore CTF-151 remains the only plausible alternative. This story is very new and did not caught in the Turkish public yet. There might be some political opposition as CTF-151 is under US control.

Turkey’s interest both in Operation Atalanta and CTF-151 is a clear sign that Turkish Navy is keen to establish a presence South of Suez.

It is going to be interesting to track the activities of Turkish warships down there and report about them.

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